Eccles: Works

The Works of John Eccles
To English theatergoers in late-seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century London, the music of John Eccles (ca. 1668–1735) would have been both familiar and welcome. His career, like those of Daniel Purcell, John Weldon, and Gottfried Finger, flourished after the death of Henry Purcell in 1695, with some time being spent as house composer at the theater in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. These years saw him writing songs, act tunes, and other incidental music for the plays performed there and contributing to the 1701 competition managed by the publisher Jacob Tonson for the best setting of William Congreve’s masque, The Judgment of Paris. He was as happy at court as he was in the theater, and produced a number of odes, which included extensive instrumental sections, during the reign of Queen Anne. His career spans one of the most interesting periods of English musical history, one during which the focus of musical production shifted from the court of the 1670s and 1680s to the increasingly mercantile, concert- and opera-sponsoring London of the eighteenth century. At the same time, English composition absorbed elements of both French and Italian music, including overture and dance forms of the former and traits in harmony, texture, and sequential patterning of the latter. Eccles himself had absorbed all these elements but was also capable of writing a good “English” tune, a flexibility that placed him in a powerful position in the theater world and made his works among the most popular of the late 1690s.
With the publication of these volumes, all of Eccles’s extant music will be available in modern critical editions. In cases where Eccles was a major musical contributor to a dramatic work but did not write all of the music, the surviving contributions of his contemporaries have been included in order to present as far as possible the complete work rather than a fragmentary version. For the dramatic works, the songs and instrumental interludes are given in the order in which they appear in the play, masque, or dramatick opera. Full texts of the masques and the dramatick opera Rinaldo and Armida are reproduced, interpolated with the music for each. For the incidental music, plot summaries of the plays are given along with relevant dialogue cues. The remaining works are grouped by genre and arranged in chronological order.
Michael Burden, Amanda Eubanks Winkler, Alan Howard, Kathryn Lowerre, General Editors
Anthony Rooley, Honorary Editorial Board Member
Olive Baldwin, Thelma Wilson, Research Associates
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